Creating a Positive Company Culture at Your Startup

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Why is creating a positive work environment so important to early stage startups? Well, research indicates that happier employees work harder and creating a work culture that people can pride themselves on can improve employee retention rates and the onboarding process.

Beyond this though, I’m sure your objectives don’t include remaining a startup forever. As most successful CEO’s have understood it, creating a company culture that will grow with your business is critical in the long-run, especially when it becomes more difficult to maintain its values.

Even in the early stages of a startup, any employee and investor can identify issues within a company based on its employee morale and an organization’s values, or lack thereof. As if your core values weren’t important to your internal staff, more and more consumers expect brands to take a stand on social issues and commit to social causes.

That’s why you should worry about these issues now and create a branded identity for yourself. Fortunately, I’ve outlined a few tips to help you create a positive company culture at your startup that will grow with your business.

Define Your Central Mission

Obviously, the first step in this process is to define your mission as a company. Whether it’s tech or even marketing, your business should seek to add value to your customers and the public and be reflected in your company mission.

Clearly define and document your company values. Your values will be heavily influenced by your founder, but don’t be afraid to get your employees involved as an entrepreneur. These people are taking the same risk as you joining your company and forming an entirely new organization. Take your employee feedback into consideration and collaborate on the values you want to communicate to future staff and even your customer base.

Open Up Communication

Along the same lines this invokes the need to be collaborative. Stop viewing employees in today’s modern age as merely just employees, but rather as team members. The best way to promote positive values at your company is to show your employees that you hear them.

Some policy suggestions include:

  • Hiring internally for upper level management positions
  • Offering rewards for employee performance
  • Hosting daily or weekly stand ups to discuss daily tasks and higher level strategies
  • Implementing employee reviews, either annually or biannually

These will be policies that will scale with the addition of an HR department and be reinforced in training as your company grows.

Honestly, one of the best ways to structure your organization is through horizontal leadership. This means that employees are on equal footing with management staff when it comes to feedback and suggestions. It also encourages employees to take the lead on projects.

Be Flexible

Furthermore, this emphasizes the need to be flexible as an organization. Whether it’s allowing employees to take the lead on projects or allowing employees to complete their tasks under their own way, flexibility gives employees the independence and freedom they need to thrive. In some cases, overhead and management can actually slow the rate of production at an organization and cause more internal friction then it sought to fix.

Depending on your startup, you might also consider allowing employees to work remotely or even on their own time, as long as it doesn’t interfere with client communication. As an entrepreneur, you can readily understand the value of remote work and working under your own system. Offer this same perk to employees to enable them to be their best.

Be Transparent

The fact is, the little bit you invest into transparency will generate a much more sizeable return on employee satisfaction and performance. Committing to the horizontal way of management and open communication, be straight up with employees on how processes are created and share them on reports. Employees demand transparency, so cultivating it will create a more open and positive company culture.

Seek to Keep Employees Satisfied

Finally, you should really do everything you can do to keep your employees satisfied. If I could choose between five highly qualified employees or one hundred entry level ones with no experience, I guarantee that the five would almost always perform better.

Within the tech industry and most advanced industries, a huge labor shortage of qualified candidates exists. This means that you not only have to pay more to get more from employees, but you also have to offer them a vision and a work environment that they want to be a part of.

Even the smallest gestures, such as offering employees free gym memberships, team retreats, or healthy snacks for the office cans how your dedication to your employees and earn their respect.

These changes will be reflected in your employee turnover rate and can even translate into your client retention rate. Commit to creating a positive company culture early on, before it’s too late.

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Samantha Acuna is a writer based in San Francisco, CA. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post,, and Yahoo Small Business.